KAR KAR ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — Ngeleda Wamm had a fulfilling career as a school teacher. He had fun interacting with children and helping them acquire valuable knowledge. “Education,” he said, “is the most important thing we can leave with the next generation.” Yet almost ten years ago, Ngeleda decided he was no longer up to that task.
After thirty-five years working at Kosmas Primary School on Kar Kar Island, Ngeleda’s eyesight began failing in 2007. He lost his vision entirely in the left eye and could barely see through the right eye due to a cataract, a condition in which the eye lens becomes clouded. He recalls the great sadness he felt on the day he had to tell his students he was retiring.
“I told them I had to leave because I was too old to see things properly,” he said.
At sixty-nine years old, Ngeleda didn’t think anything medically could be done to improve his eyesight. During one trip to Port Moresby in the intervening years, he’d paid 800 kina ($250 USD) for a specialty pair of glasses.
“That helped a bit, but not much,” he said.
Ngeleda never considered surgery as an option—and with good reason. Cataract surgery is almost unheard of in rural PNG. There are only five ophthalmologists serving almost eight million people.
When YWAM Ships Kona volunteers sailed to Kar Kar Island in February aboard the m/v PACIFIC LINK, Ngeleda was informed vision restoration was possible. They told him that they would return to the island in the spring with a volunteer ophthalmologist. That goal became a reality in April when the ship returned, along with an optometry team that included the eye surgeon — Dr. Sunu Dulal, who is originally from Nepal.
Ngeleda had an operation on his left eye during the first day of surgeries. He returned the following week to have the cataract removed from the right eye.
Ngeleda said his eyesight has improved dramatically. “This is great; to me, this is a miracle,” he said. “It’s far beyond what I was expecting.”